Kentucky Derby rides into the River Ranch
Ryan Summerlin May 1, 2013
Throw on your most outrageous Southern hat, grab a mint julep and whip your ponies. It’s time for the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby. Though Lake Tahoe is a long way from the Bluegrass State, folks around here still mark their calendars for the big race.
Tahoe City’s River Ranch has made an annual occasion out of the race, complete with Kentuckian cuisine, fancy headpieces and, of course, the race broadcast live.
“Basically, we have a party in the bar with Southern food and drink specials,” River Ranch spokeswoman Linda Johns said.
River Ranch Chef Julia Walter will be whipping up the famous “Hot Brown,” Kentucky’s own signature dish, an open-faced hot turkey, bacon and grilled tomato sandwich topped with the breathtakingly rich mornay sauce. There will also be mint julep specials and a hat contest.
Started in 1875, the Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the country. Every year, it’s held on the first Saturday in May. The race is 10 furlongs or 1.25 miles and can only be run by 3-year-old thoroughbred horses.
The race also draws gamblers to Nevada’s casinos to bet on the horses, though the crowd is slightly more removed than the fans at Churchill Downs.
“Obviously, it’s a much busier day than usual,” said Bob Morrell, manager of Lakeside Inn & Casino’s sports book. “There’s always somebody who gets into it.”
Lake Tahoe Action